The joint committee of the Senate on Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petitions, and Autonomous Commissions has recommended the amendment of Article 93 (a) of the Constitution to provide that elections for the President, Vice President, members of the Senate and Representatives be held on the first Saturday in December of each election year.
Article 93 (a): “The limitation of the Presidential term of office to two terms, each of six years duration, may be subject to amendment; provided that the amendment shall not become effective during the term of office of the incumbent President.”
The Joint committee chaired by Grand Cape Mount County Senator Varney Sherman further recommended that Article 83 (b) of the Constitution of Liberia, “which was once amended be further amended to provide that the second ballot for elections of President, if necessary, shall be conducted on the first Saturday, after the announcement of results from the first round of elections.”
Article 83 (a): “All elections of public officers shall be determined by an absolute majority of the votes cast. If no candidate obtains an absolute majority in the first ballot, a second ballot shall be conducted on the second Tuesday following. The two candidates who received the greatest numbers of votes on the first ballot shall be designated to participate in the run off election, while the joint Committee is also recommending that the second paragraph of Article 83 (c) of the Constitution should be amended to lessen the time for the filing and disposition of electoral complaints from 30 days to 15.
Article 83 (c) says: “The returns of the elections shall be declared by the Elections Commission not later than fifteen days after the casting of ballots. Any party or candidate who complains about the manner in which the elections were conducted or who challenges the results thereof shall have the right to file a complaint with the Elections Commission… Such complaint must be filed not later than seven days after the announcement of the results of the elections.
The Elections Commission shall, within 30 days of receipt of the complaint, conduct an impartial investigation and render a decision which may involve a dismissal of the complaint or a nullification of the election of a candidate. Any political party or independent candidate affected by such decision shall not later than seven days appeal against it to the Supreme Court.
The Elections Commission shall within seven days of receipt of the notice of appeal, forward all the records in the case to the Supreme Court, which not later than seven days thereafter, shall hear and make its determination. If the Supreme Court nullifies or sustains the nullification of the election of any candidate, for whatever reasons, the Elections commission shall within 60 days of the decision of the Court conduct new elections to fill the vacancy. If the court sustains the election of a candidate, the Elections Commission shall act to effectuate the mandate of the Court.”
“The committee proposes for consideration of the plenary that if these proposed amendments to the Constitution are approved by this plenary, it should be returned to the joint committee for the final language of the law, which will be finally voted upon by plenary, before submission to the House of Representatives, for its concurrence and onward submission to the people of Liberia for referendum to amend the Constitution,” the joint committee report said.
Earlier, Senator Sherman contested that since the report was already circulated among all the 30 Senators “it now requires a debate and adoption; that there is no need to have read it before we debate it. So I move, Sir, that we dispense of the reading of the report and proceed with the debate and adoption. ”
The Senate plenary however, accepted the report but set the debate to another sitting to determine the next course of action.